Jordi Vilà
I have been a teacher of Mathematics for many years but, above all, my professional life has been linked to the world of IT and Innovation.

I worked for several years at Apple in California (Cupertino and Folsom) as an Engineer. I was also involved in the creation of two startup companies in the Silicon Valley: Big Business and Powerschool.
Powerschool is an Internet platform in which I participated at the beginning as a partner and co-author based on an offer from a colleague with whom I had worked on another Silicon Valley startup in the mid 90's. PS was a pioneer in its field (Secondary School Management Systems, called SIS) and as of today has become the industry leader in the world. It has been already deployed over 80 countries and counts 48 million student users.

IT has been a means for me to enter into previously unknown worlds and fields. This has led me to a very inter-disciplinary professional life, often changing roles and roles. I have alternated various management positions with projects where I have done only engineering work. Among the former ones, I especially remember the responsibility of the IT department of the Barcelona 92 Ceremonies, both for what it meant for the city of Barcelona but also for having had the privilege of working side by side with one of the most creative and brilliant human teams I have ever had the chance to work with.


Other jobs in management positions held were as director of IT of a Swiss bank in Basel, as director of Innovation of the Health Corporation of Sabadell Hospital in Catalonia, and as director of Systems of ALG, an engineering consultancy Barcelona transport company focused mainly in aeronautical transportation where the mission was to start from scratch an AI department capable of taking on the development of Real Time Expert Systems. An example was the software that regulates today the public bus fleet network in Barcelona.
However, after graduating as a Physicist at the University of Barcelona, I became a teacher. Among other centers at the UB, the Barcelona Institute of North American Studies, for eight years I worked as a Professor of Mathematics and Programming Languages at Phillips Academy (Andover), a private school in Massachussetts. Andover, founded in 1778 (President George Washington sent his nephews), is one of the most prestigious schools in the United States ( highest rated by Business Insider in 2016 ) and, despite the fact that President Bush has been one of his students (Humphrey Bogart too!), I'm proud of having been a tiny part of it.
Nowadays we carry on our hands phones with processing power equivalent to that of large supercomputers in the mid-1980s. For example, the processing power of an iPhone in 2018 was comparable to that of a Cray-2 which, with a price of around 30 million dollars (in equivalent terms in 2017), was the reference for supercomputers in 85. The dizzying speed in which we have seen the world of computing evolve surely cannot stand comparable to any other science. It has been very exciting for me to live so closely that story for almost the last four decades and the impact that it has had in our everyday lives.

My interest in computer science aroused during the last two years at the University of Barcelona (I studied Astrophysics) when still (in the 70's) the possibility of accessing a computer terminal was only within the reach of a few chosen. Writing a program then consisted of locking yourself in a room at the University (with long waiting lines for access!) where there was a giant punch card punch machine. There we typed the code written in the FORTRAN scientific language. Then we had to pack the pile of punched cards into a shoe box and had to rush to a Computer Center on a different University, hand the punch cards over to them at a desk and then collect a day or two afterwards a printed list with the results (if there were any!). As a matter of fact, if there were any errors the process and the cycle of trips had to be repeated in a loop for ever. Everyone must have lived that kind of experience to understand the impact of the advent of first personal computers by someone who had already been captivated by programming. But what it definitely changed my life was the appearance of the Macintosh in 1984. I had one of the first units thanks to the school in the US I was working for during those years. I started writing programs for my Math classes until after a few years I decided to change my profession to write programs for the Mac for living. Since then, in one way or another I've been linked to Apple, up to the point where I ended up working for the company in California, personally hired by Steve Jobs.
I want to express my appreciation here for a development platform that has given me the ability to work on my project: 4D or 4th Dimension. It was created in 1984 by a young Frenchman, Laurent Ribardere, and today it is still an independent company. Despite being largely unknown to the general public, it represented a great deal of disruptive innovation in the development of relational database applications. Specifically, it was the first graphic RDBMS (1985), the first 32-bit RDBMS (1987), the first integrated client-server RDBMS (1992), the first multi-platform RDBMS (Mac and Windows) with the same code (that happened in 1995!) and the first dynamically integrated front-end and back-end Web development system. Apple tried to integrate 4D into its operating system in the mid-1980's, but due to complaints from companies such as Ashton-Tate (who were trying to develop dBase for the Macintosh) they withdrew. This resulted in the iconic Guy Kawasaki, widely acknowledged in the world of innovation, who at that time was Vice President of Apple to resign, and to become the first CEO of 4D in the United States. One of the features that has always attracted me about 4D was its developer community, professionals in all disciplines. Not necessarily in the world of software engineering, such as Professor Carlo Rubbia, of CERN, Nobel Prize in Physics. I am very proud of having been a colleague of this talented group of professionals.

4D has been used as an application development tool on big companies in the US as Boeing, Prudential, Amgen or Lockheed & Martin and was the tool that I basically used to develop the applications that helped to create and produce the Barcelona92 Olympic Games Ceremonies. It was the first time where desktop computers were intensively used by the olympic ceremonies staff. As an example, the parade of athletes was prepared with a computer simulation, the rehearsals were managed by various applications, involving more than 15,000 volunteers, transport, catering, costumes, protocol and also, within the choreography of the main piece of the Opening Ceremony, La Fura dels Baus used some software created from scratch to generate the production of the tiles that the spectators unfolded in the stands changing the pictures dynamically. The artist, Antoni Miralda, author of the mosaics, drew them directly on the screen of a Mac. For the first time, a mosaic at an event in a stadium was designed by computer.